Environmental Resources

Area Watersheds

A watershed is an area of land that drains water to a common outlet such as a river, bay, or lake.

Lower Grand River Watershed

The Lower Grand River watershed area is very large covering nearly 3,000 square miles of land from just west of Lansing to Lake Michigan, as far north as Montcalm and Newaygo Counties, and as far south as Barry and Eaton Counties. Besides the Grand, other rivers that drain their own smaller watersheds within the LGROW watershed area include the Thornapple, the Flat and the Rogue Rivers as well as scores of other smaller tributaries, creeks and drains, one of which is probably very near your home.

Macatawa Watershed

The Macatawa Watershed includes 175 square miles of the greater Holland/Zeeland area. It consists of hundreds of miles of rivers, creeks, drains, and ditches. The area is made up of an urban center, with rural and undeveloped edges. The watershed covers or partially covers 13 governmental units, and is smaller than the Kalamazoo and Grand River watersheds.

Stormwater Management

What is stormwater?

Stormwater runoff is generated from rain and snowmelt that flows over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved roads, parking lots or building rooftops, that does not soak into the ground. Stormwater flows into drains that take it directly to nearby lakes, rivers and streams.

To learn more about stormwater and how it is managed at the national level, click here. For more information about municipal stormwater programs in Michigan, click here.

Stormwater is NOT treated before it reaches our waterways. Therefore it is extremely important to follow some simple best management practices (BMPs) in order to minimize the pollution that reaches our lakes, rivers and streams.

What is an MS4?

Stormwater runoff is transported through Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) and then discharged untreated into local waterbodies. The MS4 is a conveyance or system of conveyances that is owned by a municipality that discharges to waters of the United States that is not a part of a combined sewer or sewage treatment plant. To prevent harmful pollutants from entering the waterways through MS4s, certain municipalities are required to obtain permits and develop stormwater management programs. More information can be found here.

Ottawa County Road Commission MS4 Information

Best Practices

Recycling/Household Hazardous Waste

Visit the Ottawa County Department of Public Health for information about hazardous waste disposal and local Environmental Sustainability Centers.

Illicit Dumping

Please ONLY RAIN in the DRAIN! Report ANY dumping into storm drains, streams or other water bodies to the Ottawa County Road Commission at 616-842-5400. To report illicit dumping in municipalities outside the road commission’s

 jurisdiction, please visit Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds or the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council for more information.

What Can I Do?

  • Reduce stormwater by planting rain gardens and using rain barrels in your gardens to prevent water from leaving your property.
  • Keep storm drains near your home clear of litter by disposing of trash and recyclables in proper containers.
  • Collect yard waste to prevent grass clippings and leaves from clogging the storm sewer system.
  • Avoid fertilizing your lawn before a rainstorm, use only manufacturer’s recommendations, and sweep up excess fertilizer on hard surfaces like sidewalks, driveways, and roadways.
  • Ensure that soiled water and other wastes from car washing practices do not enter the storm sewer system by washing your car on grass or gravel, rather than your driveway. Better yet, take your vehicles to a commercial car wash that sends wash water through the sanitary sewer.
  • Be septic smart! Keep your septic system maintained to protect your family’s drinking water and reduce the risk of contamination local water.
  • Properly dispose of any pet waste in a closed trash receptacle. Pet waste is raw sewage and contains harmful bacteria, easily transported to water through stormwater.
  • Be conscious in closing lids on dumpsters and outdoor trash cans.